First lines, like first dates, or the first bite of dessert, can be deceptive. As a writer, I distrust them (well: I no longer ‘date’ since I’ve been married 25 years; there are many ways to surprise your husband in print, but this won’t be one of them), and I particularly dislike often-quoted first lines (that shall here go unmentioned) because I’ve been told everyone loves them. Who among us instantly adores a person we’ve been told we’re sure to love? Ann Beattie wrote about titles, first lines, first impressions at Granta.
1. If you had written this book, how would you open it?
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a large penis, must be in want of a wife (or a husband)."
"Happy penises are all alike; every unhappy penis is unhappy in its own way."
"A screaming penis comes across the sky."
"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a penis."
"This is the saddest penis I have ever heard."[...]